A trip back in time to Caves House Hotel Yallingup | Remembering Percy Bignell

As part of the Mail's series looking back at the history of Caves House Hotel in Yallingup, former Busselton resident Sid Breeden sent in images, circa 1900's, of one of the region's earliest entrepreneurs Percy Bignell.

Mr Bignell operated the first motor coach in the South West transporting tourists from Busselton to Margaret River.

It was actually the first motor vehicle in the region.

The area had become a popular tourist destination in the early 1900's after Nigili Cave was discovered in Yallingup in 1899.

The state government built the original Caves House Hotel in 1903 to accommodate the tourists who travelled from Perth.

Mr Bignell had moved to the South West in 1898 from Melbourne, Victoria as a young man.

He was a pharmacist by trade and had moved to the area to manage a pharmacy in Busselton, but could see an opportunity in tourism after the Yallingup cave was discovered.

Initially Mr Bignell hired a horse and cart to transport tourists to the cave, and was eventually able to buy his own after an increase in demand.

He started a livery stable and operated horse-driven coaches between Busselton and the Yallingup Cave.

In 1907, it was reported in the South Western Times that Mr Bignell began transporting tourists from Busselton to Yallingup and Margaret River by motor coach.

He had already been running the service by horse and cart for two years and had up to 25 horses on the road at any one time during peak tourism periods.

His first motor was a Star Engineering Coy 16-horse powered vehicle which could carry eight passengers, it had a canopy on top in the summer months, and a provision to protect passengers during winter.

The motor vehicle could travel at 20 to 25 miles (up to 40.23 kilometres per hour) and in a case of emergency the vehicle could gather speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

Mr Breeden said the photo on the left showed the view down Caves Road at Willyabrup Brook.

"The photo is exactly the same view today except it is a sealed road and now has a modern Willyabrup Bridge - where Percy's Woodlands property was located - now the Flutes Restaurant site," he said.

Mr Bignell eventually opened a garage in Busselton, and was a foundation member of the Busselton Bowling Club.

If you have any memories or photos from Caves House Hotel in times past please email editorial@busseltonmail.com.au.

For more on this series visit busseltonmail.com.au